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Laminate Buying Guide Floor Types

In order to choose the laminate floor type that's right for your home, we recommend that you first familiarize yourself with the laminate patterns, forms and construction types. Who knows, you may discover that the laminate flooring that's right for you is one you never knew existed! Read the following section to learn helpful facts on laminate flooring and make the selection process a little easier.

Laminate Flooring Construction

Laminate floors are constructed using layers of several different materials. The following components make up the 4 laminate layers:

  • Overlay Layer (Wear Layer): The top layer of laminate flooring provides protection and durability. It can be made from many different materials such as paper, plastic, film, metal foil, and so on. Laminate overlay is generally comprised of melamine resin; a plastic infused throughout the construction process to increase durability and moisture resistance.
  • Decorative Layer: Refers to the decorative layer or high–resolution image printed on the surface that gives the floor its appearance.
  • Core Layer: The center of the panel which provides its structural durability. The core is comprised of Medium Density or High Density Fiberboard (MDF or HDF); material made of very compact wood fibers and resins. HDF is strong and more durable than MDF.
  • Backing Layer (Balance Sheet): The bottom layer of the flooring that provides stability and balance to the product. It's also a protective barrier between the subfloor and the laminate core.

After these layers are created separately, high–pressure machines bond them together to form laminate floor planks. These floor planks use a tongue and groove locking mechanism called "click and lock." This type of locking device allows laminate floors to be installed without being attached to the subfloor using the floating method.

It is important that you allow the laminate to acclimate (adjust to environment) prior to installation. (This could take hours or days depending on your environment. Always refer to your manufacturer's instructions or speak to a flooring professional to determine approximate duration). By allowing the laminate floor material to acclimate, you'll reduce the risk of planks cupping, bowing, or distorting after installation.

There are two different ways in which laminate flooring is made: Direct–Pressure Laminate (DPL) and High–Pressure Laminate (HPL).

Direct–Pressure Laminate Flooring (DPL)

This standard laminate construction is created by pressing the 4 laminate floor layers together between 300 and 600lbs/inch of pressure at a temperature around 300 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

High–Pressure Laminate Flooring (HPL)

In HPL, the construction process is similar to direct pressure, but the bottom layer and top layers are treated separately and fused directly to the core layer. There are usually 5 or more layers with high pressure as opposed to 4 layers with direct pressure laminate floors. The extra layers and stabilizing process makes HPL more resilient to heavy traffic, and generally more expensive than DPL types. HPL is pressed together at over 1000lb/inch at a temperature around 300 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Laminate Floor Types

Glueless Laminate Flooring

Glueless laminate flooring is the most common type of installation. This type of laminate has a locking mechanism called "click and lock." Glueless laminate is available in a wide variety of colors, designs, and imitation floor prints such as wood, stone, tile and bamboo.

Laminate Flooring with Attached Underlay

This laminate floor type comes with an attached underlayment, usually foam or cork, which can help reduce sound transmission and/or provide moisture protection.

Glued Laminate Flooring

In glued laminate flooring, tongue–and–groove areas require special formulated glue in order to bond together. This is the original form of laminate and is rarely used in present–day construction.

Pre–Glued Laminate Flooring

Just as its name implies, pre–glued laminate comes with glue already applied to all of the tongue–and–groove areas. Just wet the planks (to activate glue) and put them together. With this type of installation, a thin underlayment is typically needed to prevent the glue from sticking to the surface (substrate) and reduce the chance of moisture damage.

Laminate Floor Patterns

High–quality pictures are used on the surface of laminate flooring allowing laminate to offer a wide assortment of colors, textures, and floor imitations. You can purchase a bamboo or hardwood laminate floor that looks almost as authentic as the real thing! Review some of the options below to see what a laminate floor can do for your home or office.

Appearance

Hardwood Laminate

Hardwood laminate floors can be made to resemble many different types of wood, from Red Oak to Brazilian Cherry. The wide array of choices makes this the most popular variety of laminate flooring.

Note: To some extent, hardwood laminate is greener than authentic hardwood floors, as sourcing real hardwood often contributes to deforestation. (Learn more about laminate's lifecycle on Green.FindAnyFloor.com)

Tile Laminate

This type of laminate resembles a tile floor, without the labor of heavy tile and grouting.

Stone Laminate

Obtain the appearance of high–quality marble or slate floors with stone laminate flooring. Stone laminate can imitate the durability and beauty of stone, slate, granite and marble for a lesser price.

Surface Patterns

Embossed

Textured laminate floors are created by embossing, wherein heat and pressure are applied to give the laminate a raised surface pattern and create a less slippery surface.

Smooth

Smooth laminate floors offer a flat surface without texture.

Wood Grain

Hardwood laminate floors can have the feel of real hardwood. Planks can be embossed to copy the texture of simple wood–grain.

Distressed

Laminate floors can look just like distressed or hand–scraped flooring. This process is done by machine, not by hand as it often is in hardwood flooring. Distressed laminate provides an aged look.

Patina

An embossed laminate flooring surface is painted with a thin layer of paint, which is then wiped away. This leaves paint in the embossed spaces, giving it the look of a patina.

NOTE: Patina refers to the change in color and texture on a surface upon contact with another object; the process is used to reproduce antiquity.

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